There was a moment of clarity in grade 4 when I realized exactly where I had gone wrong and what would need to be changed to make this class more successful.
Earlier in the day I was talking about a game format with G and she said she doesn’t let her classes play that unless they know the rules. As I saw the fourth graders running around, only some speaking English and most just copying each other’s papers, I realized that the class management would really need to be overhauled for these kinds of activities to work. S gave stickers to the kids who finished first but I had half a mind to stop everything and tell them no one gets a reward because speed means nothing if you still can’t say “how much is it”.
At this point I’m not sure that is something I can do with S but maybe little by little I can make things more manageable. But until then, no more partner activities. I had to overhaul my next few lesson plans to reflect their need for monitoring. I hope next semester with the new English teachers we can set up a system more like that of G. As G said “it’s not their fault, they haven’t been trained.”
At least SEVENTEEN boy impressed me with his number knowledge. I showed them the clip from Always Be My Maybe where Marcus is suit shopping, realizes the exorbitant price, and spits champagne all over the dressing room mirror. We had a good discussion about the thousands place, conversion rates, and expensive versus cheap. They were engaged which was great to see.
The rest of the day was a collection of little moments. The grade 5 girls told me I looked like a flight attendant so I bowed and said in a very stewardess voice “welcome to Korean air, what would you like to drink?”.
G gave me a very neat hat but told me “please don’t tell anyone it’s from me. I don’t like that” so I suppose if anyone asks I’ll just say it’s from a friend in America with a wink.
Grade 3 was very entertained by my overacting: I acted out our new verbs and they had to say “can you —?” Then I successfully or unsuccessfully did the verb (example: drowning or cutting off my singing with a dramatic cough) which they also had to explain “I can… I can’t…”
G said all four times “wow doesn’t Abigail teacher look like an actor?” And maybe I missed my calling in children’s theater. I have never once been embarrassed to act or sing or dance in front of my kids.
G let me pass out the 3 reward jelly beans to students who earned ten points. It was a struggle when I dropped one… two…. then suddenly thirty. Ah stop! Give me those beans back, sorry.
One bleached and permed hair boy laughed when he asked for an eraser and I gave him a very small one: “baby eraser”. He said something about Americano so I jumped in and pretended he was a barista because this is one phrase that I know above all else in Korean. He giggled along. What a cutie.
I couldn’t give Nick Jr a point since his writing needed some work but he still turned around on his way out of class to say with the cutest little smile “goodbye teacher”.
The “am I pretty “girl from 4-2 was very excited to show me her stick perfume and insisted on putting it on me. Her friend, Clever Girl, asked me if I watched the music video which I did. The friends of the two girls tried to ask if I had a boyfriend but I played them, saying “he’s your boyfriend? I am a boyfriend?”
I ended with “없어” which I think is one of the most useful verbs in that it means “to not have or be” which conjugated means “I don’t have [it/him/her/that/etc] but gets it across with two syllables. I don’t know what’s brewing in their clever little heads…
As I was leaving two girls flagged me down. One rummaged through her backpack in a rush and pulled out an unopened Oreo package. “Teacher, here”. I’m not going to say no to a gift and a gift of food. I passed the security guard, oreo in hand, whose son got married this weekend. Last week I contributed some money to the school gift and this afternoon a nice thank you in the form of special rice cakes was deposited at my desk.
In passing I told him 아들이 결혼을 축하합니다 (Congratulations on your son’s wedding). He was overjoyed, I’m sure more so at the memory and less because of the congratulations, but he’s a very jolly fellow and it’s always a pleasure to see him.
This morning the other security guard who looks a bit more stern and trades shifts with the jolly one, greeted some students and prevented them from crossing the street too early. He held the face of one small boy in greeting or to say be careful and it was so sweet that I had to walk fast before he saw my expression.
Sometimes I think Americans see hugs as the only way of physical affection and then determine that other cultures are less touchy as concluded by their lack of hugs. I think Koreans are more touchy than Americans, for all the previous examples and the one below: handsome student along with a trail of other grade 5 students linked arms with me and escorted me down the hallway asking for candy. I felt mobbed, in very loving way.